1. Sakampa
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    Sakampa New Member

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    Speed

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sakampa, Aug 1, 2013.

    Hello everyone,
    I'm writing for quite some time now, but I have always seem to have this pebble in my shoe which is getting quite annoying. I'm dutch, so please forgive any weird constructions, words, grammar or spelling.

    The problem is this:
    I have a very rough first draft for my story at the moment. The most obvious step now is improving it into a real story which can be read, at the least. This is where things get complicated for me. The easiest way for me to explain is with pro's and cons conscerning the two modes I doubting to rewrite in.

    Perfection mode:
    Pro's
    • Having more fun
    • I have the feeling each word is gonna be a keeper which is, for a perfectionist, comforting in a way.
    Cons
    • Taking like 10 hours or more a page which is demotivating and undermining the fun.

    Smooth mode:
    Pro's
    • Going faster = more accomplished in a day = more fun in a different way
    • Going faster = better in general, I want to have my book published.
    Cons
    • Going faster also means I'm having the tendency to slack off along the way, because every word isn't as carefully weighed as in the perfection mode.
    • This con has a synergy with the one above here. If I'm slacking off along the way, I tend to have less fun because it feels I'm just rushing and there's no satisfaction when doing that.

    The past year I thought, the perfection mode will become more easy to write and thus faster. But maybe my perfection maximum increased or my skill didn't because it didn't get easier nor faster. It takes alot of pondering and puzzeling with words/sentences until I find the right one.
    So basically I'm thinking about writing faster (smooth mode) which is more motivating in some ways, but the slacking off con is a big one which kills the entire strategy after some time. I just have this tic when I'm not writing to the fullest of my potential that the quality sneakily declines along the way.

    So what's your take on this?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're trying to hard, always looking for the perfect word before contemplating the next. This sounds like a real drag to me; 10 hours per page? I hope you're immortal or you'll never finish.

    Do what most of us do, write and write and write and not worry if it's any good - that's what editing and re-editing and re-re-editing is for.

    Take a break, go find your OCD chill pills and just let your story flow, read it back tomorrow, clean it up a little, and continue. Every 25,000 words go back and edit again.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with erebh. Furthermore, until you get your story finished you are NOT going to see its structure, or understand the pacing, or understand if your characters have developed the way they should.

    Tinkering with words and sentence structure too early in the writing process is a huge mistake. As somebody once put it: it's like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    If your underlying structure is faulty, polishing the exterior is a waste of time. Get the story written, get it straight, and THEN have fun playing with words and striving for perfection in your prose.
     
  4. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider this: If you labor over one page for ten hours (or even one hour) until you feel you've got it perfect, but, when you get fifty or one hundred pages into the story and discover you need to go back and change that ten hour page, what happens then? Another marathon ten hour page?
    Okay, you said you've got a "very rough draft". So you've got your first draft. Now you've got everything in some more or less cohesive context. That's when you can go back and review, proof, and re-edit, targeting that ever-elusive perfection. But first, try putting it away for a few weeks, a couple of months or so. Get some distance on it before tackling the editing stage head on.

    I would recommend doing a story edit first. Don't worry about being perfect. Don't settle for "good enough" but don't stress too much over attaining perfection. All that will do is give you a grand inferiority complex! Just focus on getting your story tight and right.
    Then you can go back and proofread to check for spelling errors and such that did not pop up during editing.

    Stressing too much about perfection can quickly take the joy out of the writing. Slow down.

    Now, final exam - pop quiz. Which would you rather have:
    A) A fast story that is filled with errors and won't sell?
    B) A story you took a little more time with and is tight, exciting, riveting, and just down right good?
    C) None of the above?

    Obviously, the "correct" answer is B. (A) is wrong because you don't want to send a story to market that no agent wants to represent; (C) is wrong because you have already said you want to market the story.
    So, if you want to get this story to market and make a sale, step back and take a little more time. It'll be worth it in the long run.
     
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  5. Sakampa
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    Sakampa New Member

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    Thanks for the response. So if I understand it correctly it's just a matter of improving my story one layer at a time instead of shooting immediately for that perfection.
    Okay sounds legit, but how do you maintain your motivation when you're just typing like yadayadayada (currently lacking a better description). Of course I'm exaggerating about its casualness, but just to give you a rough idea of how my quality of writing declines during the process. Maybe I'm just an oddball.
     
  6. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum of oddballs. ;) Seriously though, it really is just a matter of improving one layer at a time. As for motivation, just get your story written down. If I'm exaggerating, I could say for you to write the story in a single page. Obviously that's more of a synopsis, but understand that it's simply getting the story written down. Worry about the editing later. That's your motivation. As you write, just keep thinking, "I'm writing a story, and I feel that it must be told."

    It's your excitement - your longing - of the story that should keep you going. Don't worry about amazing sentence structure and grammar for now. Pretend it doesn't exist for your first draft, or that your speaking it instead. Hope this helps. :)
     
  7. Kelson
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    Kelson Member

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    Hello Sakampa,

    I just have to jump in here because I have addressed similar issues in other forums and I am passionate about this. I started out writing screenplays and was formerly trained at a couple of universities. The programs that I attended went on ad nauseum about preparation, outlining, net-lining, self editing methods, etc. etc. I have been writing in some fashion for nearly my whole life but did not always enjoy it.

    I quit for many years to raise a family and pursue my business degree. I just made creative writing a part of my life again about a year ago. Guess who I write for now... That's right, myself. I have never felt more fulfilled or free writing anything in my life. I have produced about 13 short stories around 5500 words each, a novelette of about 9500 words and about 20,000 words of novella. That means I have a little over 100,000 words out there now (or about 300 daily). I didn't hem myself in by saying it had to be the great American novel, or that I had to be published, etc.

    I also went back and read some of the greatest writers memoirs on writing like Stephen King, William Goldman, etc. These commercial literary greats seem to subscribe to the same belief. They write for themselves with little concern about who will read them or what they think. Stephen King admitted that he only gives his work a few passes before sending it to a publisher (even before he was The Master of Horror). William Goldman also said something to the affect of, "Crap on the page if you have to but fill the white space."

    I have also discovered that the most commercially successful writers are also the most prolific. I read about a indy-published guy that averages $100,000. a year or so marketing his own e-books. Is a literary great? Doubtful, I can't even remember the guy's name. But he did state on his blog that he hit a million words before his books took off. Writer's write to get better. Sure self editing is a part of that but I wouldn't let it get in the way of creativity. That's like a soccer player not making it to the other end of the field in time because he/she is concentrating too much on technique.

    Have I sold anything yet? No. But I am only 1/10 of the way to my million words. I'll bet you real money that I am a lot better when I am at 900 thousands words than I am now.

    You can judge for yourself whether or not it is working for me by web searching Kelson's Challenge or Kelson Hargis. All my stuff is free.

    Good luck in all of your endeavors,

    ~Kelson
     
  8. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your story doesn't motivate you, you need a new story.
     
  9. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Write without regard to how "perfect" each word is, and then edit vigorously. It's more efficient, and will be just as good.
     
  10. Sakampa
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    Sakampa New Member

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    Great! Your tips and advices are all very motivating to go for it in a less nitpicking fashion and more for myself.
    Kelson, your work looks sweet, how many passes of editing did those pieces undergo on average?
     
  11. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    You need to discover a work routine that is comfortable for you. Some (Hemingway, for instance) write 500 words a day. Some rise at dawn and put in a couple of hours before going off to "work." I believe that Ludlum said he wrote his first book in a couple of weeks.

    Writing is an art, like dance or music, and takes hours of practice before the performance. For us writers that 'practice' is the first draft. And the second draft. And the thir. . . . .
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The interesting thing is—once you've written a first draft, then edited to 'perfection', you will find your next writing project contains fewer mistakes.

    You will have got rid of the habit of writing in passive voice, sticking in 6 adjectives when one will do, info-dumping, over-using adverbs, over-describing and so on. You'll still need to edit after each project, of course, but you'll find the edits go faster and will be more positive. You'll be saying: 'How can I make this better?' Instead of: 'How do I get rid of all these awful mistakes?'

    I guess it's simple, really. Practice makes perfect! Or near as dammit.
     
  13. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with pretty much everything posted by others, listen to them. I'd add two things though:

    1. Developing Skills

    Don't worry so much about the perfectionist vs. speedy crap -thing. Just write what motivates and inspires you and write, write, write. Besides, like erebh (I think) said, writing is an art form, a skill, like playing the guitar, drawing, even sports, which means that you need to practice if you ever want to be good. Don't expect to notice a significant increase in skill in a few months or even a year. Of course if you dedicate 8 hours a day, every day for writing your story, then you'll get good faster, but if you write, say, 2-3 hours a day, you'll start noticing improvement after the first year or so, and the longer / more you write, the better you'll get. This means that you'll want to go back to that "perfect" 10-hour page and you'll notice it sucks, which means you'll have to rewrite that page all over again, so I'd advise against such nitpicky perfectionism.

    Besides, the better you get, the faster you will be able to produce good, solid text, i.e. you'll achieve similar results in 1 hour than you did in 10 hours a year ago. That being said, as you get better and better, you will realize just how little you know about writing, how much you suck, to put it bluntly. You will learn to spot more mistakes than you did before. It's a scary phase in your development because you'll constantly feel like you're the worst writer in the history of literature. Surprise: that's a good thing, because it's a sign that you are developing & growing as a writer. As your skills increase, so will your ambition (most likely), which means you will want to write harder stuff, experiment more, try different methods and techniques etc. etc, so that'll sometimes slow you down some, but don't worry, in general, if you are practicing properly, your speed will build up faster than your ambition will slow you down.


    2. The Quest for Beta-Readers

    Beg, plead, blackmail, bribe, anything, but get yourself a solid group of loyal beta-readers. Just remember that 1 excellent beta is better than 10 who read only the first chapter and then vanish, never to be heard of again, probably eaten by the vicious Beta-Eating Monster... seriously, get 1-6 really, really good betas and you'll find that their feedback / critique is one of the most inspiring things you can find. Plus it helps more than I could ever put in words because, like the old translator adage goes, "a translator *insert 'writer'* is blind to his/her own mistakes."

    Also, beta-read their writing. Even if you're not into the genre they write in, because it's one of the best ways to develop your own skills (grammar, syntax, flow, character and world building, plotting etc). Who knows, maybe you'll even grow to like genres you used to hate? Anyway, you'll really need to brush up on your writing technique because if you only skim your betas's works and only give a short general review, yet still expect them to give you a detailed line-by-line crit, you'll find that the Beta-Eating Monster will pay you a visit and soon you'll have no betas left. So treat them well, stroke their egos (but remain truthful), buy them chocolate, and shine their shoes.


    Oh, and one other thing: like someone already said, if you get bored with what you write, there's something wrong with your story. It might be some fault in the plot, or perhaps one of the main characters hasn't been fully fleshed out or something like that. Figure it out, because, to me, one of the most important things, if not the most important thing is to be inspired by your story. After all, if you get bored with it, you can be certain that so will your readers. If you don't love your story, your characters, how could you ever expect anyone else to love them?
    But I digress: figure out what you love, what interests you, and most of all, what you want to say with your story. To me, that's a surefire way to ensure you'll never grow bored with your story. You might grow sick of it after the 10th time you go through the whole thing, editing the crap out of it, but that, too, is a good thing; it's a sign you're putting in enough time and effort and that will pay off, sooner or later. Regardless, even though you're sick of your story by that time, you should never feel bored with it (I hope that make sense). If some part makes you yawn, edit it until it becomes the most interesting part in the story, something you look forward to read.
     

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